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Gir awaits locally made CDV vaccine for lions, experts divided on outcome

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    4th May, 2022

Context

The Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre has developed and completed the first trials of the Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) vaccine on guinea pigs and rats.

About

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV):

  • CDV causes a highly contagious and life-threatening disease in dogs (50% fatality rate).
  • It infects the spinal cord and brain and also the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts.
  • It is transmitted by airborne route as well as infected body secretions.
  • It affects different wild carnivores such as wolves, foxes, raccoons, red pandas, ferrets, hyenas, tigers, and lions.
  • In the past, CDV had wiped out 30% of the total population of lions in Serengeti forest areas in East Africa.
  • In the current case, the genetic sequence of the virus was compared to available CDV sequences and was found to be related to the East African strains.

Status of CDV in India:

  • The prevalence of this virus and its diversity in wildlife of India has not been studied.
  • Only a few reports are available regarding the detection of CDV in captive wild carnivores which included tigers and red pandas.
  • A report in 2016 from Etawah, Uttar Pradesh about CDV infection was confirmed by the Indian Veterinary Research Institute.
  • There dogs were considered to be the primary source of infection and virus transmission.

About Asiatic lions

  • They belong to the category of Pantherine cats.
  • The Asiatic Lions in Gujarat is restricted to Gir National Park in the state.
  • It is listed as ‘Endangered’ under the IUCN Red List.
  • It is listed in Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • In the initial stage, the lions were spread from the east of the Indus River to West Bengal and also to Narmada river in Central India.
  • Until the 19th century, it occurred in Saudi Arabia,, eastern Turkey, Iran, Mesopotamia.
  • Since the turn of the 20th century, it is restricted to the Gir Forest National Park and surrounding areas.
  • The lion is one of five pantherine catsinhabiting India, along with the Bengal tiger (P. tigris tigris), Indian leopard (P. pardus fusca), snow leopard (P. uncia) and clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa).
  • It was also known as the "Indian lion" and the "Persian lion".

Gir forest:

  • Gir is the only natural habitat of world popular Asiatic Lions.
  • Besides Africa, Gir National Park in Gujarat is the only place in the world where lions can be spotted roaming freely in the wild.
  • In order to conserve the Asiatic Lion, the Government notified the large geographical extent of SasanGir as wildlife sanctuary on in 1965.
  • From a population of approximately 20 lions in 1913, they have risen to a comfortable 523 according to 2015 census.
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